Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Trip to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村) - Part 1

This weekend, Nick and I went on a trip with with my school (the Feng Chia University Chinese Language Center) to visit the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村).

The park is up in the mountains, just over the hill from Sun Moon Lake, it's a beautiful place for a theme park and it was really nice to get out of the city for the day. Here is a map I got from their website:
It's a bizarre mixture of an aboriginal culture center and amusement park.

The aboriginal culture part of the park is all the way up at the top, in the middle is the amusement park and then down there at the bottom is the European Palace Garden and "Ritz Palace." It's really a one-stop-shop for all of your educational and entertainment needs! (because you can't have entertainment without education ;-)

Upon entering the park, in front of us was a traditional aboriginal dance (for the day's opening ceremony):
And behind us was this indigenous architectural gem:
Ok well, I guess they wanted to put the "Cool" stuff near the entrance of the park. Based on this picture, I guess I don't have to tell you that this place was built in the 1980's!

Immediately following the opening traditional dance, some aboriginal ballerina's came onto the stage wearing traditional aboriginal sequins:

The performance was great, so I took a video of it to share it with you all (if you listen closely you can hear that the song actually has the family friendly lyric "touch me, feel me"!)

After the opening ceremonies, we decided to head up to the top of the park and work our way down, so we spent the first half of our day learning about Taiwanese aboriginal culture. I have to say it was surprising to us, but there were actually a lot of cool things to see and we spent a good three hours exploring.

This section consists of a lot of aboriginal houses and buildings that have been transplanted to the park.

This is a Paiwan house from the SouBau village:

This is a traditional granary...

There were lots of places with thatch roofs, but I guess the upkeep for those is difficult because I noticed that the park opted for a synthetic version instead: painted metal

This house had an interesting feature burial:
The Paiwan people actually buried their deceased in their homes (under ground) to protect them and to keep the family close. Well... you know what they say: keep your friends close and your dead family members closer!

After walking around for an hour or two, we decided to stop for lunch near one of the performance stages, where we had a great view of a show.
For lunch we had some traditional Taiwanese cuisine:
although, I have to admit... it looked better than it was. The little balls on the top right were sweet pastries filled with red-bean paste - a tasty treat for sure. But the bamboo tube with rice in the middle (Bamboo Rice 竹筒飯)
was really just not good. I had been looking forward to tasting this traditional Taiwanese food for a while, so I was a bit disappointed. It just had a bizarre, earthy taste.. I really can't even describe it.

The red bean ice though, was a nice dessert and was in an awesome container as well:
After lunch we walked through the museum for a bit (note the awesome presentation of traditional basket weaving - the attention to detail is impeccable)
(this is not the first museum we've been to where we've seen this kind of thing, the attitude seems to be that it's better to display all of it, than to only show some in an orderly fashion)
After the museum, it was craft time.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was the pottery center; for just $50NT (less than $2 US) we got to make our own bowls or cups on a pottery wheel! I LOVE crafts, so I was all about this. Just as we were sitting down to begin though, we noticed that someone else was already occupying the pottery wheel:

I seem to remember that praying mantis are good luck, so I took this as a sign that I was about to make some pretty cool pottery. After carefully removing the praying mantis, we sat down and began to mold our clay, Nick was very focused:

After I finished my bowl, they guy who worked there sat down to finish it off and remove it from the wheel... or at least I thought that was what he was doing, until he just smashed the whole thing down and RE-MADE IT!

WHyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!? Needless to say, I was a bit perturbed...
(here he is finishing my pottery piece)

However, as a result, my bowl looked like this:

and Nick's looked like this:
But I love Nick's, because he made his himself, and it's awesome... mine is just a piece of crap bowl that some random guy at the aboriginal village made... boooooo.

Our next stop was to try our hand at making millet wine:
So, this woman put some fermented millet wine in a strainer for us
and we squeezed out all of the alcohol
and then poured it into these little bamboo tubes so that we could take it home (and later drink it with friends!)

It clearly hasn't been distilled and was a bit gritty and tart, but Nick seemed to like it! (not surprisingly)

Once the wine was all sealed up and ready to go, the lady informed us that we owed $200NT! A detail that it would have been nice to know beforehand... but o well!

This concluded our cultural exploration for the day, and so it was off to the amusement park to check out the rides! But I think I'll leave that for another post!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the next post. This park seems like an epcot/disneyworld type place, with the performances, learning about different/past cultures.

    Do you see a lot of American tourists when you stop at destinations like this, or is it mostly European?